Craighead County cities agree to pay back money owed

JONEBSORO, AR (KAIT) - Monday night, the Craighead County Quorum Court addressed the issue involving $671,327.32 that is owed back to the county.

That money was supposed to be split between the county road and city street departments. However, from April to October of 2011, the municipalities received the full amount.

Quorum Court members and city officials agreed it was a simple, yet costly, human error. However some city mayors said it may take them awhile to pay the funds back.

"None of us have a problem with what you're saying but we've budgeted that money in and so we've gotta make arrangements to get it back, but we've gotta go through our council to do that," Brookland Mayor, Ken Jones said.

The county gave each city the option of either paying back the amount in full or having monthly payments withheld until the amount is paid back.

The manner in which each city pays that money back will be up to that specific town's city council.

Here is a list of the amounts each city owes back to the county:

  • Jonesboro          $623,163.92
  • Bay                    $7,915.12
  • Black Oak           $1,021.91
  • Bono                  $9,823.57
  • Brookland          $6,890.97
  • Caraway            $3,488.12
  • Cash                  $1,262.81
  • Egypt                 $350.20
  • Lake City            $10,210.66
  • Monette             $7,200. 04

Copyright 2012 KAIT. All rights reserved.


CRAIGHEAD COUNTY, AR (KAIT) – Ten cities in Craighead County owe hundreds of thousands of dollars back to the county after a yearly audit reveals a costly mistake.

In all, Janice McEntire, the interim county treasurer, says the county must collect more than $670,000 from its municipalities – a mistake that she hopes will never happen again.

"It was a human error," McEntire said. "It was a mistake. You know, we all make mistakes, and this is something that can be corrected."

McEntire was appointed as interim treasurer by the Craighead County Quorum Court two months ago, but she now has to right a wrong that occurred before her time in office. An annual audit showed, from April to October 2011, the county mistakenly paid $671,327.32 to its municipalities.

"We've notified all the mayors, and they understand what happened," McEntire said. "They're going to be meeting with their council and decide what they want to do, how they want to pay it back."

She says the treasurer's office overlooked the amount of county road taxes going to the municipalities. The county road taxes are collected with property taxes and are dispersed evenly between the county road department and city street departments, with the exception of Jonesboro and Monette.

Jonesboro and Monette get 60 percent of county road taxes collected by property owners in their cities, while the county road department receives 40 percent. During several months last year, however, McEntire says the cities were paid the full collection amounts, leaving nothing for the county.

"In city and county government, state government, federal government, you're going to have some of these things come up," said Jonesboro Mayor Harold Perrin, "and you just need to be prepared for it."

Mayor Perrin learned Jonesboro owes more than $623,000. He says the county will withhold the city's monthly property tax payments until the full amount is paid back.

"I expect that, if I look at the past history of how our collections go, it will be probably October, November before we actually get our property checks for the street fund loan from the county," Benjamin Barylske explained.

As the chief financial officer for the City of Jonesboro, Barylske notified the county several times about unusually high payments last year, but he and his staff were continually told nothing was wrong. The city's finance department, therefore, budgeted more for streets this year, and now Barylske says the city will have to count on its reserves to help make up the loss.

In the meantime, McEntire says Craighead County is obtaining a court order to ensure the repayments of the county road taxes. She says all the towns must pay back the amounts they owe by the end of the year.

Other cities that owe the county are:

  • Bay, $7,915.12
  • Black Oak, $1,021.91
  • Bono, $9,823.57
  • Brookland, $6,890.97
  • Caraway, $3,488.12
  • Cash, $1,262.81
  • Egypt, $350.20
  • Lake City, $10,210.66
  • Monette, $7,200. 04

Copyright 2012 KAIT. All rights reserved.